The Planned Parenthood Controversy Mirrored in 'Scandal'

The controversy over Planned Parenthood may have cooled down in Congress, but that didn’t stop the issue from heating up Thursday night on ABC’s hit show “Scandal.” During Thursday’s midseason finale, Republican Sen. Mellie Grant filibustered to block spending legislation that would have diminished Planned Parenthood’s federal funding — a goal long sought by abortion foes and one that nearly brought the government to the brink of a shutdown in September. In reality, there may be at least two female Republican Senators who stand in support of Planned Parenthood funding: Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The women’s health organization has come under renewed fire since an anti-abortion group began releasing sting videos this summer that allegedly show Planned Parenthood employees haggling over the price of fetal tissue for medical research. Although defunding efforts have been unsuccessful thus far, the organization may be caught in the crosshairs once again when lawmakers debate a wrap-up spending bill this December. Planned Parenthood officials, who instantly took to social media to applaud the episode, said they hope Congress and those who “are steadfast on rolling the clock back on reproductive health care access” are taking note. “The millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care are under attack,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Never one to shy away from critical issues, showrunner Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception counseling, STI testing, cancer screenings, and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer.” Reproductive issues again took center stage when the main character, Olivia Pope, was depicted going through with an abortion while the hymn "Silent Night" played in the background. Not surprisingly, the hot-button topics featured on the show enraged conservative groups, which were quick to slam the divisive episode. “Hollywood’s liberal values permeate movies and television. Last night’s episode of ABC’s Scandal was pretty much an hour-long advertisement for Planned Parenthood,” the Media Research Center said. “This is Hollywood’s moral depravity on full display.” Meanwhile, HOH is just hoping that the next time Rhimes decides to tackle a filibuster on one of her shows, she makes sure to consult Senate procedural guidelines first: Grant wasn’t even facing the right direction when she spoke from the Senate floor. Related: See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.